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5 March 2012 | Vienna, Austria
IAEA Board of Governors

Statement at Press Conference

by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to make a few brief comments on three of the issues which I covered in my opening statement to the Board of Governors this morning.

First, the anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

As you know, next Sunday, it will be exactly one year since this very serious accident. We have come a long way in that time. Japan has declared that the crippled reactors have reached cold shutdown status. IAEA Member States agreed a Nuclear Safety Action Plan and good progress has been made in implementing it.

The accident was caused by a huge earthquake and tsunami, but there were also human and managerial failings. These are being addressed in Japan, which has reorganised its nuclear regulatory system.

We know what went wrong at Fukushima Daiichi. The right lessons are being learned. Stress tests are being carried out at all of the world's nuclear plants. Practical steps are being taken to strengthen defences against powerful natural disasters. All aspects of safety are being reviewed.

Nuclear power is now safer than it was a year ago. But nuclear safety is something that must be worked at every day and we must never become complacent.

The second item I wanted to mention is the application of safeguards in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The Agency has not been able to implement any safeguards measures in North Korea for nearly three years, so our knowledge of the current status of the country’s nuclear programme is limited.

The outcome of talks between the United States and North Korea, announced last week, represents an important step in the right direction. We are seeking further clarification about the result of those talks.

The IAEA's inspectors have remained in a state of preparedness since being asked to leave North Korea in 2009. We are ready to return to Yongbyon if invited to do so, subject to the approval of the IAEA Board of Governors.

Finally, a few words about Iran.

As I told the Board this morning, the Agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme. I spelled out those concerns in some detail in my report to the Board in November and again today.

In January and February, a senior Agency team held two rounds of talks in Tehran aimed at resolving all outstanding issues. I had hoped to be able to inform this Board that substantive progress was made.

However, despite intensive discussions, there was no agreement on a structured approach to resolving these issues. Iran did not provide access to the Parchin site, as we requested.

Nevertheless, the Agency will continue to address the Iran nuclear issue through dialogue and in a constructive spirit. The basic objective is to restore international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear activities. We want to deal with this issue in a structured manner, based on well-established IAEA verification practice.

I will now be happy to take your questions.